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Clarke Students Trade the Beach for Service

By Clarke News  |  March 10, 2009

For many college students, spring break means a trip to the beach or a trek across the country. Instead, for six Clarke College students, this year’s spring break was all about making a difference.

The students, joined by Amy Golm, BVM, Clarke director of campus ministry, and Andrea Bixler, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, travelled to Cincinnati, Ohio, for a week of service work with “Franciscans for the Poor.” The trip was designed to expose team members to a variety of service work that highlighted the many ways one can make a difference.

Over the course of four days, team members on the trip served in six agencies. Some cleaned out a home with “Housing Opportunities of Northern Kentucky” while others bagged and distributed over 200 bags of groceries to the hungry in Covington, Kentucky.

On one day of the trip, the entire group sorted donations at a huge warehouse for a ministry called “Matthew 25: The Center for Humanitarian Relief,” where the Clarke team loaded over 5.4 tons clothing into 18 containers. This agency will then distribute the goods to people in developing countries.

For the final two days of service, the Clarke team was divided between Mercy Franciscan St. John, an agency that provides emergency and long-term services to individuals and families in crisis, and Visions, a daycare for children of mothers who want to go back to school.

Each morning and evening, the Clarke team gathered for prayer and reflection on the day’s experiences. “Together, we grappled with the questions raised by our encounters,” said Golm. “We learned from the people with whom we worked, including one formerly homeless man who shared his story and helped us understand the causes of homelessness and what we can do to alleviate it.”

Student team members on the trip were: Stacey Duschner, of Farely, Iowa; Angela Healey, of Durango, Iowa; Ha Young Kim, of Dubuque, Iowa; Stephanie Kollasch, of Bancroft, Iowa; Becky Mueller, of Elkader, Iowa; and Tiffany Till, of Maquoketa, Iowa.

Overall, Golm said the experience raised awareness of the needs of those who lack basic human needs, including physical, spiritual and emotional.